The teacher Walter Hill participates Out of Competition in 79th Venice Film Festival with dead for a dollara classic western that marks the Long Beach director’s return to the genre from the days of wild beakdated 1995.”In a way, it’s like I’ve only done westerns my whole career – Hill said at a press conference – I’m in love with this historical period, I like working with the right actors on horseback in magnificent natural places like the ones where we shot the film, around Santa Fe. The western is a genre for which there is now a universal mythopoeic. You Italians know it well, after all it was the country that invented the spaghetti western“
The film tells the story of the bounty hunter Max Borlundperformed by the double Oscar winner Christopher Waltzwho is hired by a wealthy man to travel to Mexico to retrieve his wife Rachel (Rachel Brosnahan), apparently kidnapped and held hostage. And as if the mission wasn’t dangerous enough, Joe Cribbens (Willem Dafoe), his former rival, is on his trail.
“Walter showed me the script and we talked about the role – Waltz said – It was a very simple and pleasant collaboration, like that of a teacher and an apprentice who, little by little, they understand each other and become friends. Working in these conditions is certainly the dream of any actor. Everyone on set worked hard to bring Walter’s vision to the screen.”
The film also marks a reunion for Walter Hill and Willem Dafoewho had not worked together since streets of firefrom 1984: “Walter and I worked together on this film almost forty years ago – remembers Dafoe – it was my first film produced by a Hollywood studio. Somehow I owe my whole career to Walter. Finding him after all these years was wonderful“.
While drawing inspiration from genre classics of the past, Hill aimed for a more modern take on the western. This aspect is especially noticeable in the character played by Rachel Brosnahan: “Walter and I had a great discussion about Rachel – said the main actress of the series The Fantastic Mrs. Maisel – he explained to me that he wanted to break some of the most classic rules of the genre, especially in the approach to my character. I am convinced that all great stories start with the construction of great characters and, in this case, I could not ask for anything better. There’s one scene in particular that made me fall in love with Rachel.in which she manages to be both vulnerable and manipulative, a dynamic I’ve never seen explored in this way in a Western”.
Hill has been working away from the studio system for some time, with very low budgets that impose significant production limits. “We shot Dead For A Dollar in twenty-five days – explained the director – I used all the tricks of the trade that I know, especially in the camera movements, to make the dimensions of the story and the staging worthy of the epic of the genre. Initially, I wanted to shoot the whole film with the camera in my hand., but we literally couldn’t afford the right cameras for this style. In these cases, you are bound to make the best of the situation you are facing. Thanks to the commitment of all my collaborators, behind and in front of the camera, I think I was able to make the best possible film given the constraints we had to face.“.
The director concluded by reflecting on the very nature of Western cinema and what he was trying to achieve by telling this story: “Narratively speaking, westerns have few surprises: we immediately understand what will be the end of the story, it is rare to see twists and writing tricks to deceive the viewer. These are stories based on dramatic fatality. The characters are defined by their choices and the ethical codes they decide to follow. I am also convinced that every good story always ends in a tear, even if we are talking about a comedy. This is why the finale deliberately has a strongly melancholic and nostalgic soul, with legends that tell us how the life of the protagonists continues after the end of the film until the end of their days”.
HERE ALL THE ARTICLES, INTERVIEWS AND REVIEWS OF VENICE 79
Photo: Kate Green/Getty Images
© COPYRIGHT RESERVED